Nov 27, Horizon Robotics（地平线机器人）, a leading Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) chip manufacturer is raising up to USD 1 billion in the new funding round which will push the company's valuation up from USD 3 billion to USD 4 billion. It will be the largest amount of funding in Chinese AI chip industry this year to date.
Founded by Ph.D. YU Kai（余凯） , who used to be the Head of Baidu Institute of Deep Learning, the three-year-old company develops chips and algorithms at the same time, focusing the applications in security cameras and autonomous cars. YU's mission is to build the “Android of Robotics,”a pervasive AI system that powers all of our smart devices.
According to Stone Li, senior business development manager of Horizon Robotics, an international chip company is involved in the series B round funding.
Horizon unveiled Gauss-architecture-based processor Sunrise 1.0 and Journey 1.0 in 2017, facilitating smart city &business and mobility respectively, and recently Bernoulli-architecture-based Journey 2.0 and Matrix 1.0 in 2018 (see this article).
There are signs and signals about the upcoming funding. In Oct, YU Kai claimed that the company would close it next round funding by the end of 2018 backed by a chip maker which could compete with Intel and a world-known automotive manufacturer in an interview.
Last year, a large amount of money poured into Chinese AI chip industry: Alibaba financed a startup called Cambricon Technology (see this article), which was reportedly valued at USD 1 billion and Intel Capital led a USD 100 million investment in Horizon Robotics. In 2016, the company secured an undisclosed amount of funding from Sinovation Ventures. Apart from the investors mentioned above, existing backers include Hill House Capital, Sequoia Capital, Yuri Milner.
China has already aggressively committed USD 150 billion to build its domestic semiconductor industry over the next decade via the Made in China 2025 development programme. With sufficient capital and strong government support, Chinese AI chip companies may be small when compared to global leaders but they may catch up in several years.
——Author: LinYan.Write to LinYan at LinYan@EqualOcean.com